Chapel Hill: Opinion

Tina CoyneSmith: Watch a video, help a mom with cancer

What would you do if you won $50,000?

One local man, Derek DeShane of Cary, decided that he would donate the entire sum to a mother of four fighting incurable stage 4 lung cancer. I know this story because the local man is my friend, and the woman he wants to help is my sister.

Let me tell you about my sister, Patti Coyne Powell. She is an extraordinary mother fighting cancer for her life.

She has a 19-year-old son, an Eagle Scout, who just deployed in December as an active duty Marine. He serves on a ship in the Red Sea. Her oldest girl is the first in her nuclear family to go to college. She learned her mother had cancer on what should have been a triumphant first day of college. In spite of that news, she stayed in school, working three jobs and driving back and forth to help. Against all odds, she made the Dean’s list in her first semester. Patti’s next youngest girl is in high school, now in a world of chemo treatments and doctor’s appointments instead of prom dresses and college tours. And her baby is just 2 years old.

Patti is a teacher’s aide in Pennsylvania. That makes her an hourly employee with no benefits. Now that she can’t work, she has no income.

Lenovo employee and family friend Derek DeShane knows my sister’s story. He also happened to enter a viral video contest for employees at Lenovo. The grand prize for getting 500,000 views on a video is $50,000. He and his wife Amy decided that if his video gets 500,000 views by Saturday, Jan. 31, they would donate the entire $50,000 to my sister and her family.

What if?

In a world where it seems that we hear nothing but horrific news and examples of the worst human behavior, the DeShanes are a breath of fresh air. Their overwhelming generosity proves that we live in a world where ordinary people do their best to take care of each other in extraordinary ways on a daily basis. They inspire me to help radically the people I meet. What if we all did that? We could change the world.

Even if Derek doesn’t win the contest, just the offer of such support for my sister brings hope to her family.

But wouldn’t it be better if he won? If we could use the power of social media finally for more than cat videos? If we could really dramatically change a family’s life?

This is a story in progress, and we need your help to make it a triumph. This is all it takes: Watch a video for two minutes.

You don’t need to give personal information. You don’t need to donate money. Just watch a video. For two minutes. Here’s the video: Share it with others if you are moved to do so. You can also go to and search 2minutes4patti.

The video features the cutest person Derek could think of, his son, learning about soccer on a Lenovo convertible Yoga 2 Laptop PC. If 500,000 people watch his video by Saturday, Jan. 31, he will win the grand prize and be able to help this family.

Has there ever been an occasion when watching a YouTube video for just two minutes has meant so much?

If you would like to help further, please share the video on your Facebook page and tweet this message: Please VIEW & RTW to help Patti, mom of 4 w/stage 4 cancer who can't work. 500K views by 1/31=$50K. #2minutes4patti

Tina CoyneSmith lives in Chapel Hill.